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Nationwide search underway for missing paperboy

By SCOTT SONNER

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Authorities turned their efforts to find a missing paperboy to a wooded area in Warren County today, while officials look for a man described as a loner who six people saw talking to the youth.

An FBI specialist was being flown in from Washington to draw a composite sketch of the man, described as a man who may have easily been befriended by 13-year-old Eugene Martin, police said Tuesday.

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An FBI spokesman said the case may be linked to that of another paperboy, Johnny Gosch, who vanished from his route two years ago.

Martin, whose 14th birthday is Friday, disappeared early Sunday as he was about to deliver copies of the Des Moines Register. Authorities are treating the case as a kidnapping.

Police turned their efforts to an isolated spot in northern Warren County late Tuesday and early today. Searchers came back emptyhanded, but may return to the area today.

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Martin's father, Donald, said today police told him they were checking out a report of a Winnebago recreational vehicle and a small airplane covered with brush in the Warren County area.

'The police haven't said much about it; as far as we know it's a false lead,' Martin said. Authorities are not even admitting the search involves Martin, but among those who went to the area were detectives who have been working on the case.

Police say there may be a connection between the two cases and are treating Martin's disappearance as a kidnapping.

Authorities said they are concentrating on 'relatively similar' reports by six neighbors who saw Martin talking with a man Sunday morning as he was about to begin his paper route.

An FBI specialist was called in to draw a composite sketch of the suspect based on the reports. Police said the description of the suspect had improved with more interviews.

Authorities also were using a psychological profile of the suspect to aid the search, said Herb Hawkins, special agent in charge of the FBI Nebraska-Iowa field office.

'Generally, the person is an introvert, a loner who may or may not be extra guilt ridden on what he does but will not turn himself in,' he said.

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Hawkins said 17 FBI agents and other authorities were investigating leads.

A report that the missing boy was spotted 'looking beat up and battered' in a car heading out of town was unfounded, Mullins said. But he refused to say how the lead was eliminated.

Mullins said a police were looking into several leads out of the hundreds received on a 24-hour hotline set up by Des Moines police.

The suspect is described as a white male between 30 and 40 years old, 5-foot-9, clean shaven and with a medium build.

Mullins said there is no reason to believe Martin wanted to leave home.

The Des Moines Register printed 50,000 flyers with Martin's picture and description Tuesday. The paper intends to mail one to each newspaper in the country, Mullins said.

A 'Help Find Eugene Martin Fund' was established at a bank after a suggestion by Noreen and John Gosch, Johnny's parents.

A reward fund for information in the Martin case has grown to $35,000 -- $25,000 from the Register, $5,000 from WHO Broadcasting Co. and $5,000 from the Iowa Newspaper Association.

District circulation managers were told to accompany carriers on their morning rounds indefinitely.

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